Go students! But in solidarity

UK Uncut Demonstration 041210 by ucloccupation via FlickrThe ethics of Gen Y

I am puzzling over the ethics of our youth.  That’s not unusual, of course.  By an accident of history, I am a typical Gen Xer.  I drink water and carry a laptop. I’m highly independent and anyone not quite ‘up to it’ receives a glance of disapproval that is the hallmark of my generation.

Gen Y’ers elsewhere

I’ve also lived in a country where the Gen Y’ers clashed  magnificently with the old guard who reminded them constantly of history. “We fought for your privileges”, said the old guard.  “Toughs”, said the youngsters, “give us more. And NOW!”

Little emperors, indeed.

Student action in UK November 2010

The student action along Oxford Street of the moment are interesting.  So many students are not there.  We look around our universities and wonder.  Not even self-interest can get them out.

But self-interest has got some out.  Are they really ethical though?  Are they pouting because they have been excluding from the loot and pillage of the economy?  Or do they really care about a well run society and are they prepared to run society well in exchange for a fair and decent wage?

Solidarity is the ethical test of politicians

The test is in solidarity.  Let’s see what alliances are formed and let’s see how easily they are bought off.  How many of the leaders would join Top Shop tomorrow if given a graduate management position?

The test is in solidarity and I am hoping (against hope) that they will take the lead in mapping the issues that face the UK today.

But beware: Politics is about results not motives

But then an old politicial science professor said to me once: In politics motivation doesn’t matter.  Only results matter.

Unless students have a clear ethical position and  a map of the alliances they want to forge, they will find their energy quickly coopted to other causes.

It happened to other generations who were smug and complacent. It can happen to them too because that is politics.

We are waiting to see.  Hoping but waiting.  I hope their political science professors have taught them well.

It’s over! Not even cats are interested in mice, mazes and cheese. They haz an iPad!

Our changing times: interaction has got so easy the cats get it!

This is how much we have changed.

Baby Boomers:  Looked for the cheese.

Gen X:  Ask: who moved my cheese?

Gen Y: Looks for there mouse

Gen i:  Is polite to their elders and asks “What is a mouse?”

But you will have to be old to follow these references.  At least 2 years old anyway.

  • A year ago, we noticed kids automatically touch screens expecting them to be interactive.
  • Last week, YouTube trended a two year old ‘got’ the iPad within 30 seconds.

There is something profound in this sequence.  Cat’s play with iPad’s.  Mice? Cheese?

I suppose I am a little relieved.  I live in England and English cheeses are really good.  Cheeses are made to be enjoyed at the end of a long day in the company of friends. So maybe changes in the world order improve my lifestyle.  More cheese for me.

But change the world order has done.  The game of mice in mazes hunting cheese is over.  Not even the cats are interested now in mice, mazes and cheese.  They haz an iPad!

Succession Planning: Goodbye Baby Boomers, Hello Gen Y

Weak succession planning has led to weakness in the management chain

I was sitting in the office of a thirties-something – a young, dynamic and intelligent man.

We noted that in many firms there is a horrible gap between the Baby Boomers and the next level. Sometimes there is a gap of 20 to 30 years.  Do you see that gap in your company? Grey hair – a long gap – slightly inexperienced manager?

If there is any succession planning, it is certainly not evident.

Generational demographics

The breaks in the chain are largely a function of demographics – the number of babies who were born.

Baby Boomers, as the name suggests, are many. They are also used to dominating politics with their votes, and dictating taste with their purchasing power.

Gen X are few. Generally, while Boomers had 3 siblings, they had none. They are outnumbered by Boomers at least 2:1. Known as the latch-key kids, they are used to cleaning up the world after the Boomers have swanned-through. They are the unseen generation.

Gen Y are more numerous and are having more children than themselves.

Can we mend the breaks in the chain?

The gap between those in charge now, and those in charge tomorrow, is horrible. It even became an issue in the American Presidential election. “Obama is too young (47!) and has too little experience”, people cried. The gulf is much bigger in business.

How will the mantle of leadership be handed on from Boomers to Gen X or Gen Y?

I wanted to know how my young friend thought change would come about.

He smiled and said: “One day, one of them will go out to play golf. And his friends will follow.”

All over in day?

How will the mantle of leadership be passed from one generation to another in your industry? And what will be the consequences?

Chaos from lack of skill and exposure? A breath of fresh air?

What are the elements of succession planning with these unusual demographics before us?

How will the generation shift affect you?  Good or bad?  And if it is sudden, will it be in your favor, or not?

UPDATE:  Perhaps we can begin by not slagging off Gen Y, be reopening management training schools and having explicit policies to pass on the mantle of leadership?

Gen Y rocks!

What has Gen Y done to the English language?

There was a time that I would have needed an interpreter to understand my title. After three years’ teaching a large management class (+-900 students) on the South Island of New Zealand, I agree with Scott McArthur, Gen Y rocks.

Dispel the myths about Gen Y

  • Far from being out-of-it, as young sociologist Maz Hardey at York University attests, mobile phones represent levels of interaction that our generation can barely comprehend. Games, as I know from talking to young games designers, represent a level of social design beyond anything envisioned by the social engineers working in 60’s and 70’s.
  • They don’t vote.  But this isn’t lethargy.  It is like helicopters blaring out “Paint it Black” as they go into combat.  And Forces’ radio “Good morning, Vietnam”.   We are seeing a similar attitude and I suspect, a revolution.

Celebrating the new Gen

And about time too. Gen X was horribly out numbered by the boomers. Gen Y is as powerful as the flower power, baby boomers, the contraceptive pill, protests against Vietnam and a VW Kombi.  Gen X is also known as the generation without a war. Gen Y have their war. They are turning out for Obama.  So let’s see.

As for me, I think Gen Y rocks. The 21st century is looking good!